Freons are colorless, odorless, nonflammable, and noncorrosive gases or liquids belonging to the class of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Due to their low boiling points and low viscosity, they are mainly used as refrigerants in:
- Air-conditioning systems
Freons are also used as:
- Aerosol propellants
- Foam-blowing agents
- Glass chillers
- Polymer intermediates
Freons are also used in:
- Fire extinguishers
Besides, Freons have been used as inhalants by many teenagers and young adults. Inhalants are everyday legal substances which when inhaled intensely, give a high. People may inhale refrigerant gases, paint thinners, sprays, or gasoline to get a kick.
But the use of Freons has been banned in most countries due to the potential environmental and health effects of ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect.
What implications does Freon have on an individual’s health?
Freon is a dangerous substance that can cause severe symptoms if a person inhales too much at once. Some of the mild-to-moderate poisoning symptoms include:
- Irritation to eyes, nose, and throat
- Chemical burn on the skin
- Ulceration in stomach
Severe poisoning symptoms may include:
- Sudden sniffing death syndrome (SSDS) due to heart failure
- Death from asphyxiation (high concentration of inhaled fumes displace the available oxygen in the lungs)
- Convulsions or seizures
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of consciousness
- Liver damage
- Other signs of decreased mental status such as memory loss, improper judgment, disorientation, and strange behavior
How is Freon poisoning treated?
If one observes Freon poisoning symptoms, it is vital to call the emergency service or Poison Control in the United States. The patient will be taken to the emergency room, and the physician will monitor their breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse.
The treatment options for Freon poisoning include:
- giving medicines to treat symptoms or internal damage.
- giving oxygen through a breathing tube.
- surgical removal or treatment of any scorched or damaged skin.
- gastric lavage removal of liquid from the stomach, using a tube if ingested.
How to prevent Freon poisoning?
Freon poisoning can be prevented by limiting the occupational exposure of Freon. It is necessary to increase workplace safety. Make sure the laborers attend all training and wear protective clothing or masks. These ensure minimal contact with the chemicals.
It is also essential to increase awareness about inhalational abuse and its effects among parents, teachers, and adolescents. In this way, Freon poisoning can be controlled to a limit.
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